ST. LOUIS -- Given no choice by his manager, David Freese spent Monday and Tuesday away from the field, clearing his head and working to fix his swing.
He returned with a 2-for-4 night, including his ninth homer, in Wednesday's 6-3 win over the Padres and he went 2-for-5 with his 10th home run in Thursday's 10-9 loss to the Phillies.
But getting out of this funk is not the only learning curve Freese has endured. The battle he's continuing to fight is the one within himself.
"I think I handle the highs pretty well, but when things go down, I'm hard on myself, and I think everybody knows that," Freese said. "I'm my biggest critic. I think that's something I obviously need to work on, but I expect the best out of myself. When you expect perfection, you're going to be fighting it."
Manager Mike Matheny noted that, results aside, his third baseman "just looked like himself" on Wednesday. That's a good sign, as Freese wasn't out to overhaul his swing mechanics, but to get them back to where they were when things were going well.
Freese entered Wednesday having hit safely in only one of his previous nine starts. His batting average dipped from .312 to .259 during that span. He was asked after his two-RBI game on Wednesday how he went about clearing his mind during the time off.
"Take a breath first," Freese answered. "You understand that you can't make this game harder. You just try to simplify everything, slow everything down at the plate. Just doing what you need to do and not be superman out there."